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Not guilty, says judge

A new disease was threatening the Canadian blood supply in the early 1980s: AIDS. But the Canadian Red Cross was slow to introduce donor screening methods and even slower to test the blood. With the Krever Commission, those infected by the AIDS virus and hepatitis C found a compassionate ear and the answers they sought about who was to blame for this public health scandal.

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After an 18-month trial, a judge has ruled that there was "no crime" in the actions of four doctors and a U.S. pharmaceutical company in relation to the tainted blood disaster. It's a ruling that provokes emotional reactions, as we see in this 2007 CBC-TV clip. "It was almost like my brain couldn't process it," says Janet Conners, whose husband died as a result of tainted blood, and who now suffers from HIV herself. "I was so certain that there would be a verdict of guilty." 
• "There was no conduct that showed wanton and reckless disregard," said Justice Mary Lou Benotto in delivering her Oct. 1, 2007 verdict. "There was no marked departure from the standard of a reasonable person. On the contrary, the conduct examined in detail for over one and a half years confirms reasonable, responsible and professional actions and responses during a difficult time."

• Many survivors of the tragedy, as well as family of those afflicted, were shocked and outraged by the verdict. Mike McCarthy, past vice-president of the Canadian Hemophilia Society (who also contracted hepatitis C more than 20 years ago), called the decision "a miscarriage of justice."
• For more on the October 2007 ruling, please see the CBCNews.ca story Judge acquits four doctors in Canada's tainted blood trial.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 1, 2007
Guest(s): Janet Conners, Roger Perrault, John Plater, Michelle Scarpino, Mina Shah
Reporter: Laurie Graham
Duration: 2:58

Last updated: January 25, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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